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PhD position on "Phenological monitoring to assess Environmental impacts on Swiss agriculture"

100%, Zurich, temporary

The Crop Science Group at the Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS) at ETH Zürich is looking for a new colleague for a doctorate/PhD to investigate environmental impacts on the phenology of crops. The intended start of the project is Q1 (Feb - April) 2021.

Project background

Several threats connected to climate change are decreasing the productivity of currently established crops. While we have a conceptual understanding of the interaction of climate and growing patterns, we are in most cases unable to provide quantitative estimates of how environmental parameters impact the magnitude of phenological shifts within the landscape. Currently, phenological observations are restricted to observations of individual plants at discrete locations or using satellites that cover large regions but have limited capability to observe small individual fields in fragmented landscapes, such as those in Switzerland.

Job description

The prime goal of your work will be to improve our understanding of plant-environment interaction under “real world conditions” in the context of agriculture. You will analyse data from different remote sensing sources (phenocams and satellites) to investigate these interactions in phenotyping trials as well as on landscape scale. This will also include field work to sample validation data. You are expected to communicate the outcomes in peer reviewed journals and international conferences. Moreover, your PhD will be embedded into an European community of researchers through the COST action SENSECO (

We offer a full time PhD position at ETH Zürich for 3 years. You will become part of the Phenofly team ( of the Crop Science Group at ETH Zürich ( within the Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS).  This will allow you to get insights into many topics related to high-throughput field phenotyping and precision agriculture. Additionally, you may join the PhD program in Plant Sciences ( The salary is according to the ETH standard pay scale.

Your profile

You should possess an academic qualification (Master) in geography, remote sensing, agricultural science, ecology, plant physiology or a related field. Moreover, you should have

  • A background in GIS and/or remote sensing or similar
  • Experience in programming, preferably python and/or R
  • Experiences with spatial databases and/or big geodata (not a must but beneficial)
  • An interest in holistic understanding of plant-environment interactions
  • A curious mindset and team player aptitude
  • Willingness to do field work (taking plant samples etc.)
  • A well-organized, highly motivated, and independent working attitude
  • Strong command of English (speaking and writing) and demonstrated writing skills. Command of German is a benefit
  • Knowledge about agriculture and/or plant-environmental interactions (not a must but beneficial)

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following information (in the given order) in one PDF document:

  • A letter that outlines your motivation and skills related to the topic of this position (max 2 pages)
  • Your CV
  • Name and contact details of two references
  • Master and bachelor transcripts

Naming convention: LastName_FirstName.pdf

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

All information on the doctorate at D-USYS can be found here: For more information about the position, please contact Dr. Helge Aasen: (no applications).

Application deadline: 1st February 2021, 11:59 pm Zurich time

Possible starting date: Q1 (Feb - April) 2021 (please let us know if this does not work for you and we can talk about a possible work around)

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